Hell no, we won't mow
Editor of the Reformer:
This is a question for all land stewards in Vermont, including homeowners, corporations, nonprofits and government entities like the state Agency of Transportation and local road commissioners. Can you delay mowing your fields, meadows, medians and roadsides? One understands the safety, environmental and business-related importance of most mowing, however are there some places that can be left alone until October or November?
I ask on behalf of the monarch butterfly and its fellow pollinators who need the habitat. Of most concern is milkweed, the monarch's elixir of life and the only plant monarch caterpillars can survive on. In Vermont, milkweed often grows wild along roadsides, cornfields, in medians, meadows and backyards. This milkweed provides habitat for monarchs, honey bees and other pollinators as well as nesting birds, fawns and many other types of wildlife.
Because traditional milkweed habitat has been nearly wiped out by the pervasive commercial use of herbicides like glyphosphate, many wildlife species are now relying on you and me to plant and care for their habitat.
Needless mowing, especially in August has the effect of destroying milkweed and killing all life stages of the monarch (eggs, caterpillars, pupae and adult butterflies). Other species also suffer.
Conversely, well managed roadsides and medians provide important migratory corridors for the monarch which could be a significant factor in bringing the monarchs back from the brink of extinction. Additional information on local efforts to save the monarchs at vermontwoodsstudios.com/monarchs.
Peggy Farabaugh, Vernon, Aug. 9